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Are you looking for a way to unwind after a long stressful day? Or are you in need of some relief from minor illness or injury? A soothing comfort meal is one way to reset your soul and enhance your state of mind.

These meals do not have to be hard or tedious to be satisfactory. In fact, you can cook soul soothing meals under 15 minutes. Here are some simple recipes and ideas to try:

1. Macaroni and Cheese

Start by boiling macaroni in a pot of salted water according to package directions. Once al dente, drain off most of the starchy cooking water, bur reserve a generous cup for the side.

Add a dab of butter, some of the reserved cooking water, and milk. Stir vigorously to incorporate, then slowly add shredded cheese.

You can customize this recipe by adding other flavorings such as fresh herbs, vegetables, seasonings such as chipotle pepper, or other flavorings such as a dab of spicy mustard. Stir constantly and add additional reserved water to improve consistency so that the pasta has a chance to soak up some of the flavors.

2. French Toast

Save your stale old bread for this amazingly delicious treat. Create a custard using eggs, milk or half and half, and flavoring such as vanilla extract, or maple syrup.

Heat a skillet on medium heat, and melt a dab of butter. Allow bread to soak up custard mixture until it almost falls apart.

Fry the french toast in the melted butter at medium heat to ensure the creation of a crispy outside crust, while cooking inside to a velvety smooth consistency. Don't disturb toast until ready to flip.

Serve on a warm platter with additional butter, syrup, fresh fruit such as strawberries, and some sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy your french toast with a hot cup of cocoa.

3. Chicken Soup

Use leftover grilled or roasted chicken from the night before as a shortcut to a warm bowl of chicken soup. Sweat diced vegetables such as celery, onion, garlic, carrots, peas in a dab of butter over low to medium heat.

Add chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a slow simmer. Add in leftover chicken.

Season with your favorite spices such as poultry seasoning, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Add in pasta or rice for extra starch.

Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes while you toast garlic bread to enjoy alongside. Consider finishing your soup with some heavy cream or butter for extra richness.

4. Cake in a Mug

   

If you need a sweet treat fast, cake in a mug is your answer. It's a quick pick me up that will take you only minutes to make!

Start by greasing the inside of a straight sided coffee cup. You can do this by using nonstick spray or melting a dab of butter in the microwave.

Add in 1/2 cup of your favorite boxed cake mixes such as vanilla, sprinkles or chocolate. Add in any other mix-ins you desire like your favorite candy, nuts or extra sprinkles.

Add in 1/4 cup of milk or flavored coffee creamer, 2 tb melted butter or oil, and stir to a smooth consistency. Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes until cake is no longer gooey.

Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream for extra soul-soothing indulgence!

5. Vegetable Veloute

Vegetable Veloute is a versatile smooth as silk soup that you can make with a variety of different vegetables. Most common ones are broccoli, squash or potato.

Start by chopping your desired vegetables into bite-sized pieces and sweating them out along with some chopped onions and garlic in a pot over medium heat.

Once tender, add 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir vigorously until flour is incorporated and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Slowly add in enough milk, or a combination of vegetable stock and milk to just cover vegetables. Bring to a slow simmer.

Transfer soup to a blender, or use a handheld immersion blender to puree to a smooth consistency.

6. Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles are a popular breakfast item in Mexico and other Latin American countries. It consists of eggs, tortilla chips, sauce, and cheese cooked together into a casserole like consistency.

Start by slowly heating a generous amount of store-bought red or green salsa in a skillet over medium heat. Add in a handful of corn tortilla chips and stir to soften and absorb the salsa.

Gently crack an egg over the top of the mixture. Transfer skillet into a preheated 375-degree oven to cook the egg. Once the egg white is firm, remove from oven and top with cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce.

Chips should remain slightly crunchy, and the runny egg yolk will provide a comprehensive dressing for the dish.

7. Pasta Carbonara

Start by frying some bacon lardons or pancetta in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Remove and drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Add 2-3 quarts of water and bring to a rolling boil. Add salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add pasta such as linguini or spaghetti to the water and cook until al dente.

Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil or butter to the pasta and stir to combine.

Crack an egg into the reserved pasta water and stir well. Add a generous amount of cheese such as pecorino or parmesan, seasonings such as salt and pepper, and a pinch of herbs such as oregano or sage.

Slowly add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta, and quickly stir to dress the noodles. Cook the mixture together for 3-5 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb flavors.

Add the reserved bacon or pancetta. You can also add in fresh vegetables such as baby spinach, or rocket for a pop of color and extra nutrients.

The next time you're feeling blue, try one of these meals under 15 minutes to instantly lift your mood!